Consumption of Chai in India

black chai served in tea cups with tea leaves

Consumption of chai since time immemorial

Consumption of chai in India was first documented in the Ramayana (750–500 BCE) *source. For the next thousand years, documentation of tea in India was lost in history.

As the second-largest producer of tea in the world, India is renowned for the consumption of chai, that milk-infused, sweet-spicy drink that has gained immense global popularity over the years. 

Records re-emerge during the first century CE, with stories of the Buddhist monks Bodhidharma and Gan Lu, and their involvement with tea. Research shows that tea is indigenous to eastern and northern India, and was cultivated and consumed there for thousands of years.

Commercial production of tea in India did not begin until the arrival of the British East India Company, at which point large tracts of land were converted for mass tea production.

Chai garden under East India Company colonization

I can safely bet on masala chai as perhaps the most loved and widely consumed form of Indian tea. Tea can generally be divided into categories based on how they are processed.

There are at least six different types of chai consumed in India:

green chai in a transparent glass tea cup

Modern tea-scape in India

In India, different parts of the country are known for their unique brews, with some of the most popular options being Mumbai’s cutting chai, the rich Irani chai of Hyderabad, and the delicate pink Kashmiri chai.

chai story
Chai story

India is now witnessing the rise of the specialist chai cafés, which are essentially sanitized, modernized versions of the traditional roadside shop, with the added convenience of free wireless internet. Some popular examples of such ventures are The Chai Story, Chai Shai Etc, Ekk Cup Chai, Ab Chai pe Charcha, Chai Wai, and The Chai Bar.

The perfect drink for every season!!!

Let me know your thoughts on Chai.

Read more about

  1. Historic rise of Biryani – India
  2. Indian Chaat Story